A-to-Z Guide to Christmas Traditions


A Guide to Christmas Customs in Austria, Germany and Switzerland

Gendarmenmarkt blue dome

One of Berlin’s most popular Christmas markets at Gendarmenmarkt Square. PHOTO © H. Flippo
Photos > More German Christmas Photos

Jump to | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | W | XYZ


QUIZ: Advent and Christmas Quiz 1 – Try this fun self-scoring quiz!

A

  • Advent – The Latin word means “arrival.” This custom begins on the first Advent Sunday around December 1.
  • Advent Calendar – An online calendar with daily Christmas facts starting on December 1
  • Advent wreath (Adventskranz) > Advent
  • Austria (Österreich) is home to many of our Christmas customs, including “Silent Night” (“Stille Nacht”)

“Stille Nacht” – An Austrian Christmas carol goes round the world

B

  • Barbarazweig – The legend and the Christmas custom that involves cherry-tree branches and St. Barbara


C


D

  • “Dinner for One” – All about this strange German New Year’s TV tradition – broadcast in English
  • Dreikönigstag | Epiphany (Jan. 6) – Why this date?


E

  • Epiphany – Dreikönigstag (January 6) – Why is this date an important part of Christmas in Germany?
  • Erntedank – Comparing Thanksgiving in Germany with the similar tradition in North America


F


G


H


J


garland
K


L

  • “Lasst uns froh und munter sein” – German and English lyrics for this traditional St. Nicholas Christmas song, usually sung leading up to Nicholas Eve on Dec. 5
  • Lichter = lights
  • Luther, Martin (1483-1546) – Martin Luther was the religious reformer who broke away from the Catholic church to create the Protestant (Evangelisch) church. He also influenced Christmas customs. More…

More on The German Way
Photos: Christmas in Germany – Berlin
Our photographic tour of just a few of Berlin’s 60 Christmas markets

M


N

  • Nast, Thomas – German-born Thomas Nast was the creator of the modern image of Santa Claus. (No, it wasn’t Coca-Cola!) More…
  • New Year’s Eve | Silvester is German for New Year’s Eve. Learn about German Silvester customs, including “Dinner for One.”
  • Nicholas – Nikolaus – St. Nikolaus comes on Dec. 6 in Germany.
  • nutcracker | Nussknacker – The traditional wooden nutcracker comes from the German state of Thuringia.


O

garland

P


Q


R


S

  • Santa Claus > Thomas Nast and St. Nikolaus
  • Silvester (New Year’s Eve) > German New Year’s Customs (coming soon)
  • Silent Night (Stille Nacht) – Our “Silent Night” page has the true story of this world-famous Austrian carol.
  • “Silent Night” Lyrics – The famous Austrian carol’s words in German and English
  • Star Singers (Sternsinger) – The custom of “Star Singers” is well-known in German-speaking Europe and some other parts of Europe – related to January 6 (Epiphany) and the C+M+B house-blessing ceremony.


T


W


XYZ

  • Xmas – An abbreviation for Christmas that comes from the Greek. > Christmas
  • Yuletide | das Julfest > Christmas

Next | Holidays and Celebrations Calendar

Related Pages
AT THE GERMAN WAY

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